22 December 2011

circuit training day

This morning was circuits, same as Tues. Kind of out of breath though. My wife and daughter have had colds recently, perhaps it's my turn. The back ache comes and goes now. Yesterday it was fine most of the day, then sore last night. Today so far it's okay too.

Last night our daughter asked me why we talk about the solstice, which includes lighting candles (and blowing them out) and talking about the meaning and symbolism associated with the solstice through human history. We have done it on the solstice or on the 24th in different years since she was old enough to understand the concepts. I explained how it was/is so she would have a ritual or tradition to associate with the holiday. One could argue we are re-creating the Christmas holiday without using the label, which is kind of weird considering the holiday came from Yule or solstice celebrations in the first place. We started doing it so she would have a tradition. Traditions are important for children to tie them to earlier generations in a family and create connections within the human community, but difficult ... or awkward at best, for atheists to deal with within a religious society, so it was stressful for us to come up with something we could do that would be appropriate without dogma or abstract ("sciency").

18 December 2011

exercise changes

I went to the podiatrist this week. It's been about two years since toe surgery, but it's still painful sometimes. We discussed the MRI from a few weeks ago. I shouldn't do motions that use weight to bend the toe upward. Stretching it manually is okay, but lunges and calf raises are not, unless I'm wearing shoes that prevent toe bending. That's possible for lunges, but not that great, so I have to cross those two off the list. The orthotics don't seem to do anything when I wear them, but he says they are supposed to help in the long term, but shoes don't fit properly and heel cups don't last with them.

The restriction should also extend to jumping rope. I don't do a lot of cardio work, but walk every day and do rope jumping as part of circuit-training for cardio. If I reduce the walking and stop rope, there's nothing left that I currently do.

I'm supposed to do weight-bearing exercise for my osteopenia/osteoporosis. That's why I started jumping rope along with the weight lifting. I don't know what other weight-bearing exercises there is that is not impact or toe bending.

My wife, our daughter, and I did some shopping around yesterday and tried some stationary bikes and elliptical machines. No one seems to sell rowing machines in the stores. During all this I asked the wife if I should just sell the power rack as used and join a gym, but she said it was okay to get more equipment to avoid the crowded gyms and the things that go along with them.

Ellipticals seem to be the better way to go, based on various web pages, so I bought one yesterday evening that had a smooth rotation and fit us (well, the adults). It's a compact model, but still a big piece of equipment. Had to move some things around in the garage to make room for it last night and spent a good chunk of the morning putting it together. Had to make use of a hammer because a bolt wouldn't line up and a plastic fairing for a joint had broken hooks so it won't stay on. Box the ~100-lb worth of stuff back up and head back to the store or deal with it? Okay... a little fairing is not a big deal.

I tried it a few times, up to a five-minute session. My "walking" pace seems to be 45-47rpm and it's more work than walking. My back has been getting better the past few days and felt 95% today until trying the elliptical, which made it burn a bit on the tweaked side.

Give the gift of "fitness". We didn't know what to get each other this year... the elliptical answered that question. We both have shopping for the spouse done.

15 December 2011

lower back

I don't know what happened this time. I had some hip flexor pain over the weekend due to good mornings on Fri, so I read about the "proper" technique for those, then did some practice ones with no weight on Mon, using that technique but must have messed up a squat or deadlift rep but didn't notice any problem until Tues. Worse on Wed, but still not hobbling, just occasionally painful. Wed's workout was upper body, so that was fine. Looking like today's circuits will be skipped and Fri's lower body will be an upper instead.

Today is the final for my class, so will spend the bulk of the day preparing for that. I could probably skip the final and get a good grade, but would like to do well on it.

I had a second interview with a company last week. They do "bleeding edge consumer electronics" which is a competitive, fast-paced environment. Much different from the research environment. I don't know how I would do in that, plus the company is currently in our city, but is moving soon farther away than I currently commute. I will not be able to work the hours I do now and WILL have to work longer hours, so basically I would have to leave at the same time I do now, but will get home three hours later. As you can tell, this is not an ideal change.

11 December 2011

Dickens Fair

We went to the Dickens Fair today. We have gone the past ... three or four years, but this time was not in costume, just street clothes. We didn't spend very much time there, because we were not in costume and we've been there a number of times before. Same old. In costume it's more interesting because we are more of a part of it.

Over the course of the weekend I set up lights on the house and we decorated the tree inside, but since our daughter is too old to continue the Santa myth, there's not much to the holiday, so neither my wife nor I were that interested in decorating. Well, she wanted the lights up, but wasn't interested in the rest of the process.

Festive lights as images of the sun, representing the continuation of life in the dark and cold of the winter solstice, with shiny and nostalgic decorations replacing the images of the things people wished the coming year to bring don't make a big holiday. I don't know it it's because we are too detached from the rhythms of the year that we aren't into it or just because we have no family here to gather with.

05 December 2011


I've been reminded that it's been a while since I've written here, so here's a quick summary of the last few months.

Obviously I haven't had too much to write about. The Java class I started back then is nearly finished. Our last assignment is due this week and our final is next week. I went into the class knowing some Java, but it was good to get a formal education in the language. Now if I can only leverage that with my experience programming in C and recently C++ into a new job. Haven't made much progress on that front. Paid a service to write a resume for me and have had a number of recruiters contact me for contract, web programming, or both position. None of which I'm actually interested in.

Now that's it's December, it's eight months out from my shoulder surgery. That was primarily a biceps re-attachment with some other clean up.

Back at the beginning of Sep, I started a more normal weight training program because I could finally hold a bar across my back. It was not comfortable by any stretch of the imagination, but I at that point I could do sets of squats as long as they weren't too long or too heavy. Not too long because it hurt and not too heavy because I couldn't hold the weight. At least I could do some. The physical therapist thought I was a bit overzealous, but said it's a good stretch for my arm, so go ahead.

In mid Sep I caught up on a number of articles I have been meaning to read. One of them was "Eat Like a Warrior King" by Dan John. In it he wrote about "the secret to nutrition", which was to "eat like an adult."

The highlights of the article were:

"Stop eating fast food, stop eating kid's cereal, knock it off with all the sweets and comfort foods, and ease up on the snacking. And don't act like you don't know this: eat more vegetables and fruits.

"Really, how difficult is this? Stop with the whining. Stop with the excuses. Act like an adult and stop eating like a television commercial. Grow up.

"Every success in your life doesn't call for several extra rounds of beer, a salutary doughnut, and high fives from everyone. You're an adult now; you don't need a cookie every time you do something special.

"...if you want to look good in the future, you have to start looking at food like, well, food and not a reward."


The arm/shoulder bugs me off and on. For example, in mid Oct I made it ache practicing volleyball with our daughter. I didn't hit the ball very often, I was mostly throwing it to her at different speeds, vertical angles, and distances from her. I did hit it some and caught her hits most of the time. One was a jumper, which was a mistake. I learned that reaching my arms up high to catch a ball is not a good plan. That one catch was probably the one thing that aggravated it the most.

The problem was I wanted to help her. The old man can play with her. My wife has usually been the one to practice with her, because she knows how to play, but for just practice, I figured I didn't need to know how to pass or set, but it turns out I have to be capable of catching and throwing. I'll have to be more conservative today or fess up that she should wait until we pick up the wife from the airport and they play.

Last saw my orthopedist in mid Mov. He said I should be using light to moderate weights on upper-body exercises and no push up, dips, or other heavy work like those for at least a year post op if not 18months (minimum of five more months). Anything overhead is to be limited, and people shouldn't be doing overhead press anyway. However, I've always read that overhead press is THE exercise for working on shoulder strength, but the behind the neck version was out.

A few days after that I saw the PT to get exercise recommendations. Upper body work should be in the 10-15rep range, so 6s, 5x5, etc. are out. Overhead press with DBs is okay if inclined and not heavy. No pullups. Pulldowns are okay, but not heavy and not too wide, but not too narrow either (becomes a pullup) and palms facing is better, but I don't have a bar to do that. No dips. No pushups. No overhead triceps work like French press. No bench press, but DB floor press is okay with palms facing. Lateral raise is okay if not above shoulder. Bent-over lateral raise is okay.

Took a couple pictures to see what my arms look like. The pictures confirm that my left biceps is smaller than the right. The lift numbers are more interesting. Those took a nose dive when I injured the shoulders, of course, and are recovering. I'm back up to where I started two years ago and now have to progress to ... something more.


A few weeks ago our daughter went to an evening birthday event, so my wife wanted to go out and felt like having fish. She's less inclined to be a veggie than I am, so, while I've been "strict" about my dairy-egg-veggie habit, she has some turkey or fish occasionally. We went to CreoLa, which is a Louisiana-themed restaurant near us. She's been there before, but I haven't because it has no veggie dishes. Before we went I checked the Seafood Watch chart, but afterward it occurred to me that because most shrimp comes from overseas these days, the shrimp I had was probably not from the "best choices" list and was from the "avoid" list.

My wife invited a guy over for Thanksgiving, but he came down with something the morning of, so called to cancel. She had bought a turkey breast (for him), so now we had it. I cooked it and ate most of it. Another foray into meat eating.

I learned a new saying related to shopping on Thanksgiving Friday: people buying things they don't need with money they don't have. Shopping for the adventure of it. Weird.


My wife and I recently watched "Sugar: the Bitter Truth" on youtube. It's about 90min long though. Interesting stuff about the role of sugar and high fructose corn syrup in the American diet. There's also the not so interesting details of the digestion of sugars, but discussion points out how fructose is bad for our system. As a medical practitioner, she's oohing and ahhing about how horrible those things are. If you want more reasons to stop eating sugar and drinking alcohol and sodas/pop, check it out.


I don't normally write about exercise motivation, because it's not something I think about much. Last week I read something by Frank Zane about it. He broke motivation down into five categories:

deficiency: you're not satisfied and want to change.
goal-oriented: you're training for something, e.g., competition.
success: you're responding to positive feedback and want more.
ongoing: you're feeling great from what you have done and want to continue.
structure: you're following a plan.

Success and ongoing motivation seem similar, but former is externally driven and the latter internally. The last one is for the OCD in all of us.

21 August 2011


Worked on homework Saturday morning and made a good start on the two programming assignments, but still need to answer the review questions part.

When I had had enough, I left the computer and my wife immediately jumped on it. We need a second computer. I looked into some used or refurbished ones. They are a lot cheaper than a new one and the new ones have Windows 7. Bloatware. I use a W7 machine at work and like XP better. Could do a linux one, but at least for the class, the programs need to run under Windows and either XP or 7 should be okay for that.

Saturday afternoon we drove to San Francisco to visit a guy who makes shelves for chinchilla cages. He didn't mention that he lives in the Tenderloin. Lots of street people but surprisingly there was some parking. We bought a few (wooden) shelves and talked with him some about chinchilla care. He's a nice guy. The shelves are because we apparently are keeping the chin we have been fostering and they like to hop, so like multiple levels in their cages. They are wood because they like to chew.

In the evening we three went to a murder mystery dinner on a river boat in Sacramento and stayed the night in a hotel there. The dinner was a comedy thing, which is not what we expected and it wasn't that good. Actually it was kind of annoying and we weren't the only ones that thought so. It was not off to a good start when nothing happened for an hour and a half after we/the entire group were/was seated. We drove back this morning, caught up on pet care from the morning and continued with home weekend stuff.

first class

Thursday night was the first class. It was mostly a review of the course guidelines and requirements, then a review of some material related to the course.

Most of the students are traditional students, recently out of high school. There was one guy who was about my age, but through a dialog with the teacher, he is not ready for the course. He pointed out that when he started programming classes, punch read machines were used. My first class must have been the year after him, because they were being removed that year.

Maybe half of them took the prerequisite class over the summer, so the material and the teacher are very familiar to them.

After this one class, it seems easy enough, but she assured us that the work will get more complicated and time consuming.

Before the class started two students were in the hall waiting for the door to be unlocked and talking about their history of programming classes. I thought they were annoying. Not sure why. Maybe they just reminded me of how out of touch I am with modern methods.

I hope work doesn't interfere with the class schedule. If any travel comes up, then I could potentially miss a class. They have an attendance policy that factors into the grade, so I don't want to miss a class due to a travel conflict.

Now that I know the schedule, I can let people at work know and hopefully the projects can fit in around it.

11 August 2011


I forgot to write about the class I'm planning to take. Because it's been a long time since I've taken a programming class and I've been writing C since then, I thought it was about time that I took formal training in modern programming methods and a modern language. The local community college has an introduction to object-oriented programming in java class, but when I looked at the textbook, it was obvious that was too beginner for me. The next course, programming methods in java, is much more my speed, but they have caveats with that course that it's not a beginner class and students are expected to know the fundamentals of programming and programming in java. Toward that end I have been working through the textbook for the intro class, so hopefully I'm prepared. The other issue with the methods class is the time. Apparently many people drop it due to the time requirement for completing homework. I have arranged to drop my work hours to 32 instead of 40/w, so I'll see how that goes.

An additional concern is our one computer at home. There are three of us and only one desktop. My wife does some browsing and email and our daughter is starting seventh grade in a few weeks. I assume that more of her homework (aside from math) will be done on the computer. We are potentially going to have computer-time conflicts. I had bought a tablet (7inch Samsung) to help with the computer conflict, but the thing is not that useful because it's annoying to type on it. Laptop? Used laptop?

Oh, and of course, because the methods class has two prerequisites, there was bureaucratic foolishness I had to go through to register for the class.

In the end, I hope the class makes me more useful in the programming job market, since I can't find any positions in my current field, where programming is just a side line.

09 August 2011


For a while now, our daughter has wanted a chinchilla. We talked about it and came up with a plan that she would save up the money for the critter and we would buy the cage, etc. for it. However, she and my wife went to the local chin rescue center over the weekend, so...

We are currently fostering a 5-yr male chin named Carlos. She would like to name him Fig. Chins are nocturnal animals. That was something that became quite clear to me because his cage is off to the side in the living room and I have been (mostly) sleeping on the couch since the surgery, because I can't sleep flat. The sleeping flat thing is getting better and instead of moving the cage upstairs last night, I tried sleeping in the bed. It worked out okay, but when I tried it once last week, the ache in the night bothered me more. I guess it comes and goes now, but soon I'll be ready.

The girls were out of town last night. Our daughter doesn't have a summer camp this week, so they are vacationing.

The chin makes a mess during the night: bedding and his little poop pellets out of the cage and everything moved around inside.

I don't know what we're going to do about this. We need to try the cage in her room one night with her trying to sleep with the racket, so she can experience it, but that means the cage has to be elsewhere and I'd rather not have it in the living room.

They didn't say how long this foster period was. Apparently it's open ended.


In the past week or so I've pulled out the crochet tools and managed to get some work done. Enough to finish a scarf I started a year ago for my wife. Actually, she and our daughter are going to share it. It was the yarn I dyed at a yarn-dying "party" last July. It was an on-and-off project while doing other projects, but I haven't done much since the skiing accident and none, until now, since the surgery.

I was supposed to make a scarf for my mother-in-law for her birthday. It was originally our daughter's idea to knit one for her, but she gave up on the project and I volunteered to crochet one. I had plenty of time, but after being idle for months, don't have much time now.

getting attention

Yesterday morning I had to work to get the PT's attention. After doing the exercises in a PT session, the chief PT stretches my shoulder (then comes the ice and electrostim). Yesterday the guy on the table next to me was wanting to talk with him about the golf developments over the weekend. Hello, he's stretching me, it's my time to talk with him. I wanted to ask about the latest estimate of my timeline for being able to put a barbell across my back, do overhead presses, etc., so I butted into their conversation to take care of business.

The answer was another two months for doing back squats, in the mean time use DBs. Which means I'll continue doing front squats with a 45-lb plate and keep doing leg extensions and curls with the iron boots. Over the weekend a clerk at vitamin store suggested doing squats with a Smith machine because then I could hold on with only one arm. That was a good idea, but I would have to join a gym to do it.

He also said that even though I can't do overhead press yet, I could do incline press. They went okay with light DBs. I'll have to try front raises and lateral raises for shoulders. I forgot to do them at yesterday evening's garage session.

Deadlift and biceps curls are progressing faster than I expected. Anything shoulder-related is slow.

05 August 2011

more PT

I went to the ortho a month ago and Wed this week. Each time he looked over my shoulder and moved it around and said to continue with physical therapy (PT) and come back to see him in a month.

Wed I tried to put a bar across my back to see if squats are an option yet. No joy.

In the mean time, I bought some "iron boots" and have been using them for (standing) leg extensions and curls. Been doing deadlifts with a barbell. Did 3sets x 10 x 95lbs this week. (Prior to surgery I was doing around 250.) Front squats 3sets x 10 with a 45-lb plate. Even vertically, holding the plate is the hard part.

Have been struggling with things like normal lat pulldowns and floor press. I can floor press 12-lb DBs, but a barbell is too heavy to attempt. Next week I'll try 16-lb DBs. Doing them on the floor, because it's not worth it to unfold the bench and it keeps my elbow from moving too far back. Two of my PT exercises are triceps pushdowns and lat front pulldowns and those are okay. On overhead (normal) lat pulldowns, the muscles in my shoulder grind, but I can do the movement if the bar is kind of out in front, far enough so I won't hit my nose. Still can't do something like a shoulder press, because the arm doesn't move like that. That also means hanging leg raises are out. Prior to surgery I was doing them with arm straps, but I tried getting in those the other day. No way. For the last month or so I've been doing leg lifts and crunches.

26 June 2011


A week ago Wed, a group of us left work early in the morning for a road trip to eastern Nevada. Seven guys and some equipment in two vans and a truck towing a trailer. We returned this week Thurs.

I did what I could to continue with shoulder physical therapy using tubing, the pulley rope, and the exercise equipment in the hotel's "fitness center". They had a multi-station exercise machine that included a leg attachment for leg extensions and curls. My old weight rack and bench setup had one, but because I was relying on deadlifts, manual glute-ham raises, and squats for leg work, the new bench doesn't have a leg attachment. For this surgical recovery and the potential next one, this is a problem because I can't hold a barbell or heavy dumbbell to do leg work. The old-time strongmen used "iron boots" that were strap-on "boots" that could include a dumbbell each before the days of isolation leg work. The tubing is awkward to use for leg work, I ordered a pair of those boots. The boots should be useful for a long while. I will need to build up a lot of strength before I move beyond them, but I can see that using them for leg curls may be I'll continue with anyway.

The landscape where we were in Nevada was sage desert and hills. Dry and sandy in some parts, but where we were working had springs and different types of associated biting flies, but the air was dry.

I didn't bring a camera, but took some pictures with my phone on the way back. On the way I bought a few postcards. The following pictures are from the phone.

Once we came across the California border, we entered the Mammoth Lakes area, where we stopped for the night.

As we approached the Sierra Nevada mountains, we were in a meadow.

Once in the village of Mammoth Lakes, we found that the road to the Devils Postpile was closed, so we stopped on the road there and looked out over the valley from the embankment. While we were wandering around there, a few of us went over to a snow pile and made a snowball each and carried them back. When we arrived back with the others, we put them on the railing. Another guy had some carrots and another had a pocket knife, so I fashioned a face with a couple pebbles and carrot slivers.

On the other side of the railing, there was a rock wall with a chipmunk wandering around. "Don't feed the wildlife", but someone gave it a peanut.

I thought it was strange that the place name didn't have an apostrophe, so I looked it up. Official place names in the US aren't allowed to have apostrophes in them, so there are only a few exceptions and Devils Postpile isn't one. I don't have a picture of it, but it's like Devils Tower, a magma pile that cooled slowly and fractured vertically to make rock "posts".

The next morning we continued the drive across California, passing through Yosemite national forest. One place we stopped for picture taking was Tenaya Lake.

Another place we stopped was at an overlook toward Half Dome. Most of the rock there is granite. In the foreground are mounded granite slabs. Half Dome is a granite mountain that has a shear rise in Yosemite valley, which was to the south of the road/pass we were on. We didn't detour down there.

11 June 2011

normal activities

This week the lead PT said I should start doing normal activities again. Last time I saw the doc, he said not to, but that was several weeks ago. There goes my excuse for not doing dishes. I did them last night. Shoulder was sore reaching around, but I didn't break anything. Started tying my shoe laces again. (I had a slider to hold them, which worked with one hand, plus a little assist.)

I was out of a town for work some this week. Was of little use loading and unloading the equipment and I refused to drive the van full of cargo, but I was able to do my primary role. That was mostly just operating a laptop.

Late last week I also started typing with two hands again. I can get my arm on the desk, but it's not mobile once there. Limit of range of motion. I can also get my hand on the steering wheel of my car, but it's not of much use other than stabilizing.

Tried wearing a t-shirt. It's doable, but not fun putting on or taking off. Been doing button-front shirts since the surgery.

Oh, training related, sort of, I started lifting a 40-lb DB for 3 sets of 12 as an experiment, bad arm stabilizing, but held by the better arm, in a squat/deadlift. Doing those and crunches for the last week, three "sessions" so far. Tried leg lifts, but gave up because they put too much tightening on the shoulder

05 June 2011


I read an article online this morning about how people have a hard time keeping track of relationships with more than 150 people, Dunbar's number. They were relating it to numbers of factory workers and Facebook "friends". In the work setting, people can't keep track of whose job is whose and efficiency goes down. That's why Gore-Tex factory size is limited. I think the 150 thing also works for other other "friends" lists too.

I also watched an online exercise video. One day I'll be able to that again, but my weight is also approaching 150. In the past 2.5 years I've managed to gain something like 10 pounds, mostly muscle. In the last two months, I've lost most of that. Return to exercise is another month away, at least. By then I'll be starting Completely over. Nothing I can do about it, but it bothers me. I have some knowledge about how to train, which I didn't back then, but I still have to do all the work get to where I was. Yeah, and that's just for the first shoulder. Did I mention recently cross-country skiing was THE stupidest thing I've done?

03 June 2011

better PT session

This morning's session went much better. The place was less crowded and I received some better direction. The lead PT manipulated (stretched) my arm as I have seen him do for others.

He says I need to get more range of motion into the shoulder before we can move on. Behind schedule.

Exchanged messages with the Dr office earlier this week. I don't return there until next month, so I asked if I should have the MRI of the other shoulder before that appt. I'm anxious to find out the extent of the injury the outlook for surgery, not that I'm ready to have it done. He said no and wants this one to heal more before pursuing anything with the other, so the limbo continues.

30 May 2011

PT coniniuing

PT exercises continue. I haven't been to the PT place since Wed, but they tell me which exercises I'm supposed to do at home. Those are done 2x/day. They don't seem any easier, but the shoulder has a little more range, not dramatic. The arm is out of the sling, except for sleeping, but mostly hangs there, because it does raise on its own, but bends at the elbow most of the range that joint used to have.

I looked up shoulder cartilage tears yesterday to verify what I had read before. They don't heal due to lack of blood supply, so I don't see how PT on the left side is going to help the tear on the right, as the therapist suggested. PT would help restore it AFTER its surgery.


A few weeks ago the subject of Dungeons and Dragons games came up. Our daughter was interested in the open-endedness of the game. We decided to try a board game of that type, because it would be simpler than having a dungeon master, though that confines the flow of the game to a set path. I ordered "Wrath of Ashardalon" and we have been playing it the last two weekends. Usuallt just the two if us, especially since the wife was out of town. The games take about 90min to 2h. According to the rules, the characters start over as new characters at the beginning of each adventure, except the one we three started yesterday. It's a three-part campaign and we keep the characters improving through each part. We played the first segment yesterday and might do the second today. I think the second and third are going to seem easy because we second-level characters going into them, but the adventure rules and monster abilities stay the same.

When I was thinking about movement, I pulled out my old tai ji videos, which are VHS. When I tried to play them and others in the VHS/DVD-combo player and recorder, the player screeched and the video was wavy and noisy and the audio was distorted. I tried different tapes, but finally decided to buy another one. Not new, because who makes VHS machines any more, even if it does have DVD too? When we (I can't do it by myself with one good arm) set up it, I found the VHS tapes and player had the same problem, plus the supposedly digital tuner didn't put up any channels. I set an email to the seller that it wouldn't work for me. As a played with the tapes, I noticed the quality was improving and eventually they would all play well, except for one, which I threw away. The others I transferred to DVD, mostly with that "new" machine, but as an experiment, I had the wife switch out the players. After some experimenting like with the other, VHS quality improved like with the "new" one. Hmmm. Nothing really wrong with it. The belts probably stiffened up from disuse and needed working.

This morning my wife boxed up the "new" one and she'll mail it back tomorrow, because even though the VHS works, the lack of digital channel support is a killer.

27 May 2011

continuing recovery

Physical therapy started last week. It's going okay. The shoulder gets sore doing the exercises, which are primarily range of motion. One arm dragging the other along. It doesn't stay sore though, well, it's not any more sore from the exercise.

Saw the Dr this week and he said to use the sling as needed, so I don't wear it during the day, but it's helpful to sleep. Still need to sleep sitting up, to keep the pressure off the shoulder.

Meanwhile I'm still a couch potato, because, aside from the PT work, I can't exercise because I'm not supposed to put direct or indirect stress on those biceps. If I walk, I get pain behind my knees, due to bad mechanics from not swinging the arm in a natural gait, so I haven't been walking as much as I'd like. Don't know when the arm will be ready again. Not much point in doing arm work with the "good" side, because the healing side has to catch up once it's ready. The "good" isn't all that good, but there's no rest for the weary. There is a thought that the PT work will rehab that shoulder at the same time, "as it gets stronger", ummm, it was strong before this when I was lifting. Have to see how that goes, but if the cartilage is torn, probably (hopefully) not as bad, and cartilage doesn't heal, I don't understand how it can get better. There are a number of arm-back movements where it catches, one of which is the dip exercise. Before the surgery, the Dr said we would look at the other shoulder again (MRI) when the first was finishing PT. I've done one week of six so far.

I am curious about this surgery or no surgery bit on the other shoulder. When this series of PT is far enough along that I can start doing some exercise again, I wonder if it's worth it, if more surgery is coming: would have to start all over again after that.

Last week my wife was out of town for the week, so our daughter and I were alone with the pets. The kid had to do much more around the home than she is used to and didn't it. As it was, we bought some paper plates and plastic cups, so she would have fewer dishes to wash, and ate take out or heated-up frozen food. In the course of the week I figured out how to do some additional things on my own in a decent, though not ideal way, because the kid was overwhelmed with responsibilities (school, home, and pet care).

30 April 2011


I can't dance but found the following video when looking for Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and like Amanda Suk's choreography better than the "official" Adele video.

Before I started weight training, I was doing tai ji and yoga. The tai ji isn't quite dance and not contemporary dance, but it was flowing movement, which is one thing I liked about it. Weight training is just move the weight up and down. I don't know how to fit in both.

The bigger and more pressing thing is how to find a new job. We need to move and my funding runs out soon, but haven't found any positions. In more than a year I've had only only one phone interview and that was a long shot.

12 April 2011


Had the first follow-up appt. yesterday after the surgery Friday. The doc showed us a few pictures taken during the surgery. The shoulder cartilage was torn up and the tendon was okay. He moved the tendon attachment and cleaned things up, including some bone spurs that have built up over the years. The recovery has been a lot less painful than bone surgery on a foot, which was a year ago.

The doc said it's time to do some light grip training. No twisting the wrist, just grip. Twisting involves the biceps.

My wife has her hands full taking care of the daily things for two of us and the pets, but it's going okay. The pain med was giving all kinds of side effects (groggy, headache, blurred vision, etc.), but that's going away now that the pain has reduced.

Did a little work yesterday afternoon. Enough to get a draft result emailed. Some of that involved learning some gimp. We've had a new computer at home for a few weeks. Instead of installing the old image processing software, I installed gimp. I like it. I also installed irfanview, but don't like that one as well, though it does basic things easily.

Was tired this morning. Perhaps overdid things yesterday.

04 April 2011

room painting

We spent the bulk of the weekend painting our daughter's room. It was all blue, with a darker blue for water going half way up, then a transition wave to a lighter blue for sky going onto the ceiling, then a transition to yellow sky with a big sun with rays a few shades of orange.

The new version is bland in comparison. It's now lavender with a standard white ceiling. This is spring break week, so she and mom are home the next couple days figuring out where to put everything since this is an opportunity to rearrange.

I did a small amount of gardening. Not much has sprouted since I put out seeds, so I replanted many of them. The beans had sprouted, but it looked like something pulled them up. There were small holes along the pea rows, so something dug them out. Between the squirrels and the towhees, the garden's not doing well this year. The chickens don't get into these areas, though they are very curious about the seeds when I'm out there.

01 April 2011

shoulder update

I had an MRI of my left shoulder on Sat, almost a week ago. Found out from the Dr office on Mon that I have a labral and a rotator cuff tear. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that helps form a socket at the shoulder. A big tear in it is usually caused by falling on an outstretched hand (e.g., skiing), pitching fast balls, driving a golf club into the ground, etc. Normal wear and tear on the joint can fray the edges and a big tear means the cartilage has pulled opened. Surgery is used in both cases because it doesn't heal by itself. In the minor tear case, the surgery is to smooth out the edges. For a big tear, one option is to stitch it back together, however, I'm too old for that.

Biceps tenodesis is the medical term for the surgery to fix a superior labral tear anterior to posterior (SLAP). The long tendon at the upper head of the biceps attaches behind the head of the humerus along with the cartilage (like the labrum) and other parts of the rotator cuff (muscles and tendons and support the shoulder). In my case the injury tore the labrum due to the biceps attachment there. Because the cartilage will not repair itself, the solution for someone my age is to cut and reattach the long head of the biceps tendon onto the front (lateral side) of the humerus. This will relieve the strain on the labrum and allow it to ... recover its shape, etc. I can understand relieving the strain from moving the attachment, but I'm kind of vague on the labrum recovery.

Three weeks in a sling, months of physical therapy while the attachment establishes, then see what can be done with the other shoulder. Surgical recovery involves a month in a sling, physical therapy, and then rehab. physical therapy while the attachment establishes.

If the other shoulder has a tear, which it seems to have, that's another round of surgery and recovery when the first is done. It's not the same symptoms, so potentially a different type of tear. Three or four months of no training.

A number of years ago I read an article in Yoga Journal in which the author started writing about tears during her yoga class practice. I'm thinking tears as in something being torn, like a rotator cuff, but no, she was referring to tears as in CRYING because she was having an emotional experience.

So far my shoulder tears haven't caused any tears.

Had a pre-op physical with my primary Dr on Wed. We talked some about the surgery and the recovery. He didn't know how the different attachment will change the way the biceps are involved in movements like pullups. I was curious if the load changes more to the shoulder if the attachment point shifts, because the biceps will no long be able to help with the pulling, just the bending of the arm. I don't the mechanics well enough, neither did he.

He did say that the shape of the muscle will be different, perhaps that's just cosmetic. I am curious about the effects on my training. How long will it take for the surgery arm to recover strength similar to the other arm? Will I be able to do the movements I've been doing because the left arm is different? Overhead press? Pullups? Will similar surgery be needed on the right side? I won't know what the new arm configuration/mechanics is like for months. Messy.

Meanwhile, our daughter has a cold. She had a fever, then a sore throat, now she's stuffy. I hope I don't get it, because the surgery would have to be postponed and the next opening is a month away.

The pain in that shoulder is usually just an annoyance when doing a number of different every-day motions. Other things like push ups and bench press are more painful. The justification for the surgery is that those annoyances aren't going away because the cartilage won't heal.


I read an article by Bradley Steiner on persistence. In it he wrote about two mistakes people make: failure to continue with a training plan (quitting) and jumping around between plans.

He concluded with:

"One of the greatest things weight training can do for a man is teach him to be disciplined and to be patient. He must discipline himself to perform the rigors of his scheduled workouts, and he must be patient enough to keep working out until he begins to see the results of those workouts, and those results will be more than enough reason to keep at it."

20 March 2011


Last month there was supposed to be an ice-skating costume event, but it was canceled to due lack of interest. I had started a mustache because my wife thought I would look more "period" with it. When the event was canceled, she said to keep growing it and we would go to the next event, which was an "Anne of Green Gables" tea at a tea room. The skating event was late Victorian and the "Anne" was around the turn of the century (20th), so the costumes she had planned would not work for them, the sack suit she had made for me was okay. Men's fashions don't change that much or quickly. She "whipped up" period, mutton-sleeve blouses for them and we were set.

The only problem was they didn't take jackets, so they were cold. We had an umbrella, which we needed, but jackets would have been good too. My wife's hair is done up in the Gibson-girl style. I have the mustache, sack suit, bowler, Prince Albert-knot tie. There were three men in brown tweed, though all different. It was a common color then. Three others were dressed for a formal night on the town instead of tea. There were seven men and a total of about forty people.

In the evening, I was ready to shave that thing off. I was tired of it tickling my nose and lips, it getting wet from things I drank, etc. I don't think it was long enough to use mustache wax on it, but my wife wanted me to grow it long enough to have waxed handlebars. She doesn't have to live with it. Our daughter helped shave it off while the wife was busy. A couple hours later she still hadn't noticed it was gone, but we weren't sitting in conversation or anything during that time.

In the above picture, you might notice that our daughter has braces. That's a relatively new edition, about a month and a half. She's doing okay with them. Her teeth are starting to adjust already.

The girls (chickens) are laying again, now that the days are longer. That's been a couple weeks.

Last weekend I spread some compost, which is mostly due to them, and planted the vegetable garden. I looked a little while ago and nothing has sprouted yet. It's been wet this past week with little sun.

Another thing I did last weekend was check into a new computer. The current one is six years old, which is of course, ancient in computer years. Mine at work is about the same age, but has a faster processor, so the home one is slower and bogs down more with modern, interactive, web pages.

11 March 2011

"Ringworld's Children"

I finished "Ringworld's Children". Like I mentioned the other day, the last third of the book was better than the preceding, but didn't average out into a good book. It's been a long time since I've read a science fiction book, but I still expected more to the book than interaction with the ring. There was also the idea of the "protectors" and their drive to protect their people. Protector is Niven's next phase in a human's life, after the breeder phase that we know about, and brought about by "tree of life", which is actually a root. The drive to protect provided motive for the character's actions, but it was lame. With such a monumental engineering construct as Ringworld, it would be nice if there was more of a plot and some character development instead of riding on the coat tails of the immense artifact.


It's spring. We need to get the vegetable garden going. Should have done it last weekend, but gave up after clearing out the big vine because the green-waste bin was full and there is still some garden clearing to do before planting seeds in it.

It's frustrating though because we plant stuff and then don't use most of it. We don't take/have the time to cook with what we grow. I'm planning to do some planting tomorrow, Sat.

07 March 2011


Went to the doc this morning. At home now waiting for traffic to dissipate before driving to work. He gave me a shot in each shoulder (different places). He says to give it two weeks and see how they feel. They might be sore later today and no shoulder work for a few days.

My wife and our daughter went cross-country skiing over the weekend with another mother-daughter pair. They didn't go on "that hill" where I spilled and had a good time on their road trip. I did a little gardening (removed the bulk of a vine that was taking over the fence) and the usual weekend chores (house cleaning, laundry, buying chicken feed and other fun stuff).

Also read some in the book I've been reading, "Ringworld's Children". I read "Ringworld" many years ago, which I liked, and "Ringworld Engineers" later, which wasn't as good but interesting because of the background information of the ring. "Ringworld's Children" is better now that I'm 2/3 into it, but it's still an odd book because it's not a story. The characters are just ... having adventures as they go with no rhyme or reason with little character development or motives for doing what they're doing. In the beginning it was very confusing because there was no set up, they just started going, now that I'm in it, I've accepted that situation of the writing, but still have no idea what's the point of it all. The interesting part for me is still design of the ring and their interaction with it, but it's funky because it's made up as they go along.

26 February 2011

training course

Wed-Fri this week at work was taken up by a software training course. Not sure if I'll actually use the software because it's not part of what I do, that is, not required for the tasks for the projects, but one of my "supervisors" thought it was a good class to take. One of the tools to help with this software is Blender, which I have been learning, so that crossover would be good if it ends up that I use both.

Blender is not something I've had to use before either, but some visualization work ended up on my plate, so I did some of the online tutorials.

Upper-body weight training has been okay this week, but using very light weights compared to Dec, before the cross-country skiing spills and its shoulder injuries. Shoulders have hardly improved. Thumb is a bit better. Very slow. I've mentioned that the shoulders hurt in different ways. I did pushups as part of circuit training again. They cause pain in my left shoulder. Someone suggested I try dips because they have a different movement pattern. Dips cause pain in my right shoulder.

When I went to the doc about these things a few weeks ago, he said to call back if they didn't improve by now. "Improve" is a relative term. There has been a little, but not much. If I take pain relievers then that knocks it out, but the label says to only take up to ten days. It's been more than that, so I haven't taken any in a while.

20 February 2011

book shopping

On the way home from Stitches, we stopped at our local Borders bookstore. It's a national chain, but going bankrupt, so everything in the book is reduced. Most books were 20% off, romance books were 30% but I don't know why they were an exception, magazines were 40%. The line for the registers went halfway around the store. When we arrived, my wife went to the end of the line and we started looking around. When I was finished, I took my turn in the line while they went looking. People were buying large stacks of books, which I thought was odd considering they were only 20% off. I suppose the time wasted in line is more worthwhile then.

There is a Barnes and Noble a few blocks away from the Borders store. They will have less competition now, but I wonder how well they will fair as more books go digital.

Of course this means a little more unemployment as our society shifts to more technology. One thing I don't understand is why people continue to have so many children when there's no reason for all these people. Prior to the industrial revolution, people were needed as labor. With the ongoing information revolution and most manufacturing jobs outsourced to other countries (primarily China) or done by robots, jobs are shifting to the technology creators and those that service them. The service sector is shrinking because more of those tasks are shifting. Retailers, like the staff at Borders, are not needed due to online shopping (e.g., Amazon). Other tasks are going to computer analysis, for example, paralegals. They search legal documents for information on current cases. Because that information is becoming computerized, it can be searched by computer. Other fields are being computerized or replaced by machine too.

While I've been trying to find a new job, I may be stuck where I am until the funding runs out. We live where we are surrounded by technology creators (Silicon Valley), so it's expensive and crowded to live here, but have no way out and I might soon be unemployed.


We all went to Stitches West yesterday. It was primarily a shopping trip because I hadn't registered for any classes. The event is primarily for knitters, so most of the classes and vendors cater to "them". I bought an ergonomic hook set and a wooden hook to experiment. My wife bought some sewing notions and stuff. Our daughter bought some beads for jewelry making.

The Ravelry crew was there for a "meet and greet" and I spent some time talking with Casey. He and his wife founded the web site / company and he's been doing the web programming ever since. It was good to meet and talk with him. I shooed myself away because there were other people milling around who wanted to meet and take pictures with him. I didn't, but did get a Ravelry button.

When we arrived home, I took out a crochet project I started at the end of Dec but haven't touched much. The shoulder problem I have written about and forearm pain before that has keep me from crocheting for a while now. It went fine yesterday. I hope the forearm tendinosis (from overuse, not tendinitis) was due to too much forearm exercise. If I have identified the cause correctly, the overuse issue should be resolved because I've changed my exercise program.

shoulder progress

Well, I haven't had much of the title. My shoulders, and the thumb, continue to be painful, though the thumb not much, just an annoyance. While the thumb was the most painful in the beginning, that has improved but the shoulders prevent me from doing upper-body exercises. At the last Dr visit, I was told that with this type of injury, I should be moving them, so should do rotator-cuff warm-up exercises and other work as I can tolerate it. Since then I have experimented with some bench and overhead pressing to test my shoulders. While I was due to do bench reps with my body weight the week after the injury, and then had to shelve those plans, now I am only able to do some painful reps with 40% of that. The slow road forward.

31 January 2011


My shoulders and thumb still hurt in different positions and movements, though because the thumb is used for more activities (e.g., I hit the space bar with that thumb), it's more of a constant annoyance.

My workouts for the next few weeks are going to be lower-body only to limit the shoulder involvement. Not much I can do about it.

I'm sooo glad I went cross-country skiing. (sarcasm)

We watched some more clips from "Big Bang Theory" online. There are a few with the song "Soft Kitty" and I came across a video of someone playing the tune on a recorder, so looked it up for ocarina. Last night our daughter played the notes on oboe and I used the ocarina and it was part of her music practice. It's been weeks since I tried playing due to the earlier pain in my forearms, which is gone now, and then the thumb problem. Of course, the thumb hurt during ocarina playing because one hole is covered by the thumb, so I didn't play long.

Did I mention that I have no intention of skiing again?

I have a Dr appt today to talk about the lack of progress on the thumb healing, because he's a hand specialist, though at this point I would like a general orthopedist to talk about the shoulders too.

25 January 2011

weekend thumb jam

Over the weekend we went to the snow, which included cross-country skiing on Sat, which was the first time for me. We have gone on this annual trip a few times before, but have gone sledding. Our daughter is older now.

I fell a few times in the course of the afternoon, during and after the lesson. Late in the day, when the shadows were long and there were more shadowed areas and icy patches, we went down an "intermediate", downhill area. It was quite steep and fast and I spilled forward. My wife fell earlier on the hill than I did, so had less speed and she fell backward, which was the better thing to do. I was leaned too far forward to do that.

After that hill it was flat back to the beginning and a short walk to the rental shop, but it's not like I could stop and rest my thumb. There was a mile or so of flat to go. At the end of the day, I had a minor pull in my thigh, some kind of tear in my rotator cuff, and a painful and swollen thumb. Went to the doc yesterday and had it looked at and x-rayed. Conclusion was that it's probably just a strain and I should be careful with it, etc. Apparently I planted my thumb in the snow and jammed or bent it back.

18 January 2011

internet TV and radio

It took some work, well, calls to the tech support people, to get the internet TV and radio connection to work. Last one I talked to had me set some IP addresses for static DNS (domain name servers) in the router settings and the internet connection box on the TV has worked fine since then. Prior to that content retrieval was timing out and failing.

My wife listens to a streaming music site and that's a channel available through the box. I added station along with hers, so I can listen to music that I like too.

Since I wasn't crocheting or doing other work yesterday, I watched some streamed "Big Bang Theory" scenes (on the internet-connected TV) for a while. They have some funny stuff on that show.

Watched a Jim Wendler (multi-part) seminar too. That was not exactly information packed, but okay.


It's annoying that I have apparently "injured" myself using the FatGripz through tendon overuse. I had assumed that the tendons would adapt as I have read about, similar to muscular adaptation and growth. Impatience gets me nowhere, if there is a cycle of setbacks due to pushing too hard and then the need for rest to heal the overuse. Considering my slow strength gains, it should have no surprise that my tendons would respond slowly as well.

Rest due to muscular fatigue from workouts is a different story.

Even before I starting weight training "seriously" two years ago, I had a recurring pain in one shoulder, probably rotator cuff. I haven't mentioned that one, but it comes and goes too. It's been a problem in recent weeks too, since I tweaked something in that shoulder at weight lifting class. I haven't returned to that class since then due to that (though the holidays got in the way, so couldn't if I wanted to). It's a nagging pain, but not bad.

Back when I started, I was doing L-flys and Cuban raises with light weights because I had read that those are preventive exercises for rotator cuff problems. The jury is out whether those worked at the time, but I've started them again to what happens.

Due to forearm pain, I haven't been doing much crochet work and stopped practicing ocarina and tin whistle so the fingering work doesn't aggravate the problem.

10 January 2011

tin whistle

After some discussion with Morg and Star Trek TNG "Inner Light", I ordered an Irish tin whistle, which has arrived as well. I can't get a consistent good sound out of it yet and I don't know if I'll ever play a good jig or reel, but perhaps I'll get a decent Frere Jacques out of it soon.

I haven't been practicing ocarina or tin whistle very much with this cold, so not much progress.

internet capable

The cold that started last weekend continued through the week. While I thought I was over the fever and doing better on Mon, the fever came back and I stayed home on Fri and rested much of that day, aside from an unrelated doctor's appointment.

Previously, I had ordered an internet-capable receiver box for our TV, which also meant ordering or buying a long ethernet cable to install under the house, jacks to provide access to those ends, two short ethernet cables to attach to those jacks, and an HDMI cable to attach to box to the TV. Those parts

Because I was feeling better yesterday, my wife and I installed that stuff and had internet streaming enabled on the TV in the afternoon. All without drilling any new holes into the floor or walls... but only because I made use of the existing holes that I made when we moved in and doubled up the coaxial with a coaxial and ethernet jack. Cheating, yeah.

The box could have worked wirelessly, but I figured a wired connection would be more reliable and stable.

I tried some video and radio streamimg before moving on to others things, then we watched a "Wallace and Gromit" short ("Loaf and Death") in the evening. Before playing anything, the interface shows the content "retrieving" before play begins. I assume that's because they want the content cached on their server or locally before streaming the output to the TV. Sometimes the retrieve fails and the content fails to play. That happened a lot with the radio streaming. Annoying, but the system mostly works. Considering we are now 2-3 years behind, I would have expected better success.

02 January 2011


About twenty years ago, I bought an ocarina somewhere. I have never bothered to play it, but recently rewatched a Star Trek TNG episode that reminded me of it, so dug it out and downloaded a fingering charts for a few songs and have been practicing those and some other songs. I don't much like the high notes because they either squeak if I'm not blowing hard enough or they are too loud (high notes seem to ... penetrate more).

Since starting with that ocarina, I bought another one. It sounds a little better, but it's similar. They are pendant, 6-hole (four on the top and two on the bottom) versions.

One site that I've downloaded songs from is for an iphone application where you blow across the microphone and the "holes" one "covers" to play the notes are circles on the touch panels. I thought that was an interesting application, but I'm not going to buy an iphone for it. I'd buy another clay or wood version first.

an egg

This morning there was a small egg in the hen "house"/loft. I'm thinking it was the first egg from the new chick, who is a pullet not a chick, of course. It was unexpected because it's winter, but when our other girls started, it was also in the winter, so apparently pullets are a little confused when starting out in their egg laying. I haven't cracked it open to see if there's a yolk. There may not be.

tide pools

Solstice week we were on vacation, visiting the inlaws/grandparents and other of my wife's relatives. That was a good week away. We had bad delays at the airports, but due to two-hour layovers between the two connecting flights, we didn't miss any of the flights and were only a little late arriving there in the end.

I've been sleeping in the last two weeks. That changes tomorrow, when I go back to work again. In that sense I've been lazy, but have continued to workout as usual during this time, including the vacation time away by visiting a gym there.

Since we have been back, our daughter and I went to the tide pools. It happened to be low tide when I checked, so we went. We didn't take the camera, so I used my phone to take a few pictures.

We saw a lot more sea stars than we usually do, including a few brown, like this one, orange, and pink.

Pink one with an anemone in a pool. In this pictures, there are also some snails and the different types of algae that grow there. There is also usually a small type of fish in the water too, but we didn't look for them.

After we walked around the pools, we spent a while watching a blue heron that was fishing in a large pool. We saw him catch, and miss, several fish. They were larger than the little pool fish I mentioned, but don't know what they were. The heron moved slowly and spent a lot of time standing still, stalking whatever he saw in the water. It was an overcast afternoon with some wind and drizzle. We also brought the binoculars and bird book that grandpa had given her.